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A magical tale which takes place in 1910 London, which tells the story of a rather unique nanny with special magical talents who floats down from the sky via an umbrella, to take care of two children, Jane and Michael Banks, answering their advertisement for a new nanny, even though it was torn into pieces by their disapproving, distant father, Mr. George W. Banks who had a different type of nanny in mind. Things are soon to change for the better as Mary Poppins not only nurtures and teaches the children about all sorts of things, but helps George Banks realize what he is missing by not being emotionally involved with his family.
The cast includes: David Tomlinson, Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Glynis Johns, Hermione Baddeley, Elsa Lanchester, Reta Shaw, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber, Ed Wynn, Arthur Treacher, and Reginald Owen.
Screenplay by: Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi, based on books by P.L. Travers.
MARY POPPINS was nominated for the Best Picture award.
Directed by: Robert Stevenson.
Review: This glorious 1964 Walt Disney musical is a wonderful, imaginative musical for the whole family, as it has something for everyone: Great cast, great musical numbers, wonderful dance segments that flow naturally with the imaginative story line, talented direction and inspiring use of animation with live actors all come together to create one of Walt Disney's masterpieces, which earned some academy awards.
The story begins in a London park, as Burt (Dick Van Dyke), a goodhearted Jack of all trades, is entertaining the people there with a one man band act, complete with a base drum, singing and playing the first of many entertaining songs composed by the Sherman brothers. Burt takes the viewing audience on a brief tour of the neighborhood, introducing the eccentric neighbor, a retired naval officer, Admiral Boom (Reginald Owen) who sets his cannon off periodically, before bringing the audience to the Banks household, where one can hears some unrest coming from within. The current nanny Kate (Elsa Lanchester) is resigning because the children ran away from her for the umpteenth time - this time while they flew their kite in the park, much to the distress of the maids, Ellen (Hermione Baddeley) and Mrs. Brill (Reta Shaw)
After several great musical numbers: Suffragette march around the living room, with suffragette mother Mrs. Winifred Banks, with maids and ex-nanny in tow involuntarily, Mr. Banks singing about what he thinks is his perfect life, Jane and Michael Banks (Karen Dotrice & Matthew Garber) show up at the door with Constable Jones (Arthur Treacher).
Jane sings to their father, the advertisement for their new Nanny, which is rejected by MR. Banks, and he rips it up and throws it into the fireplace. The note, of course floats up the chimney and into the wind, where it comes back together and winds up in Mary Poppins' hands, as she sits on a cloud.
The fun begins, as Mary Poppins floats down from the sky, using her umbrella, appears before Mr. Banks on the day of the interviews, where she informs him that she should know in a week of working in this position whether she'll stay or not, taking control of the interview, leaving Mr. banks confused but feeling like he found the right nanny. Because a mysterious wind then blows all the other nannies waiting to be interviewed up the street, Ellen opens the door and finds no one to tell that the position was filled.
From this point on, Mary Poppins is friendly but firm with the children, teaches them the fun of cleaning up (magic helps!) in the famous Spoon Full of Sugar sequence of scenes. They stay out of trouble with the imaginative outings they take with Mary and Bert, through his chalk paintings, and visiting special friends, like Uncle Albert (Ed Wynn), who floats to the top of the ceiling when he laughs and has the whole group up there for tea!!
When Mr. Banks confronts Mary Poppins about these outings, Mary suggests that Mr. Banks take the children to his place of employment, the bank, which is the beginning of the liberation of Mr. Banks, and his realization that he needs to get to know his children, when events turn disastrous.
MARY POPPINS, filmed entirely on a sound stage is truly a timeless, "Disney Classic," a live musical fantasy which is a perfect integration of music and story and animation, the first of its kind. Disney started with the songs, written by the Sherman Brothers (Rich & Rob), and told the story around and through the music. Add a mixture of well-planned, well-executed live action and seamless animation, together with high quality painted glass by Peter Shaw, this picture was the crowning jewel of Walt Disney's career, his greatest professional triumph as a film maker and story teller.
Favorite live action / animation of this reviewer is the horse race on the merry-go-around horses. A close second is the dance Bert does with the penguins. The choreography in the musical sequences is also topnotch and very creative. A favorite dance number is the dance of the chimney sweeps along the roof tops of London. It was a traditional English pub dance, done to the tune of the old English favorite, Knees up, Mother Brown, with a few creative innovations, courtesy of the talented choreographers, Judi Hoods and Marc Breaux.
The director, Robert Stevenson uses his talents in direction to great use in this film. Stevenson had directed a variety of genres during his long career in Hollywood: King Solomon's Mines, Jane Eyre, "Gunsmoke" (1955)- TV Series, and Disney Classics, Old Yeller, Darby O'Gill and the Little People (my childhood favorite), Absent Minded Professor, That Darn Cat!, Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
What a stellar cast assembled to tell this delightful story, based on books by P.L. Travers.
David Tomlinson, a well-known British stage actor got his big break in the film business by his portrayal of Mr. George Banks, a cold, proper banker in need of some help. He is best known for his dynamic performance. Not only can he act, he can sing.
Julie Andrews - does an outstanding job portraying the wise, loving Mary Poppins, nanny extraordinaire, who helps all involved to be their best, to the betterment of everyone. Her singing and dancing ability is a delightful addition.
Dick Van Dike - gives a convincing performance as Bert, and is quite talented in singing and dancing as well, though his accent slips a bit, but who cares? He also portrays the ancient, crotchety Mr. Dawes, Sr., President of the Bank, is a comical fashion. The make up transformation was pretty good for 1964.
Glynis Johns - is still best known for her role, as the suffragette mother, Mrs. Winifred Banks. She has had a long career in light comedy roles through the years.
Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber- are the talented, cute child actors who convincingly played Jane and Michael Banks, perfectly cast for their parts. Though they had a few more roles in Disney films, they didn't make it big as actors in their adult years. Matthew died very young in his early twenties from a mysterious illness.
A variety of well-known character actors and comedians give full support to the main actors and story line, adding their special gifts to this magical film.
Comedian actor Ed Wynn is hilarious as Uncle Albert.
Hermione Baddeley - as Ellen, the maid worried about added responsibilities.
Reta Shaw - As Mrs. Brill, the housekeeper, Elsa Lanchester, briefly as Katie Nanna, Arthur Treacher as Constable Jones.
MARY POPPINS is the perfect family film, and is entertaining on a lot of different levels. It's underlying theme is the importance of families taking time and energy for each other, a timeless truth.
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Quote from Mary Poppins: "In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and - SNAP - the job's a game!"
Quote from Jane and Michael, singing their advertisement to their parents: "If you don't scold and dominate us We will never give you cause to hate us We won't hide your spectacles so you can't see Put toads in your bed or pepper in your tea.!"
Quote from George Banks (singing): "It's 6:03 and the heirs to my dominion, Are scrubbed and tubbed and adequately fed. And so I'll pat them on the head and send them off to bed. Ah, lordly is the life I lead."